Dependent Personality Disorder Defined, Plus Self-Help Tips for Healing

Dependent Personality Disorder Defined, Plus Self-Help Tips for Healing

Have you ever been told to “be more independent”, or maybe you are the one saying it to your kids, spouse, co-workers, etc.?

Have you ever heard of dependent personality disorder?

Feeling powerless, unable to care for yourself, and struggling every day with the need to be taken care of is not a good way to live.

This is how you’ll feel if you suffer from dependent personality disorder.

You may think that this type of behavior is normal. It’s not. Let’s talk about it.

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What Is Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)?

Dependent personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people feel anxious and helpless when they are not able to be taken care of by someone else.

People with dependent personality disorder have problems in their ability to be self-sufficient, along with an excessive need to be taken care of and excessive fear of being abandoned by those they rely on.

Dependent personality disorder is sometimes confused with codependent personality disorder, but they are different conditions. Read more about dependent personality disorder vs. codependency.

Dependent Personality Disorder is on the Cluster C Spectrum.

Most of the personality disorders we dig into here are on the Cluster B spectrum. But according to the Mayo Clinic, dependent personality disorder is a Cluster C personality disorder.

“Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior,” the Mayo Clinic says. “They include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.”

Dependent Personality Disorder is an Anxious Personality Disorder. 

When you first learn about DPD, you might think it’s just a formal diagnosis of codependency.

But according to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s an anxious personality disorder, and there’s a lot more to it than that.

In short, someone with DPD feels generally helpless, like they can’t take care of themselves at all.

People with dependent personality disorder may feel like they need to be around other people all the time in order to feel good about themselves. They may try to please others and avoid conflict at all costs, even if it means giving up their own needs.

It’s not unusual for people with this condition to feel like no one understands them or supports them as much as they need—and this can lead them to become depressed or anxious.

What does dependent personality disorder feel like?

You may notice that people with Dependent Personality Disorder have great difficulty initiating projects or doing things on their own (because of fear of disapproval or failure).

They need other people to assume responsibility for them, make most of their decisions, give them advice and instructions, and take care of most of the constructive action in their lives.

  • You’re highly dependent on the people around you, even relying on them to make decisions for you.
  • You need others to take care of you.
  • You are afraid to be alone and you worry that you might not be okay if you do find yourself going solo.
  • You also do whatever you can to make the people around you like you, including but not limited to not disagreeing with them, even if you’re not on the same page.
  • As with codependency, you are likely to have a fear of abandonment.
  • You wouldn’t know what to do if your partner needed you to do something for them.
  • You wouldn’t be likely to tolerate excessive emotional, psychological, or physical abuse in order to maintain the relationship as someone who is codependent might.
  • People with DPD sometimes act helpless and refuse to handle their adult responsibilities, preferring to have them taken care of by someone else.
  • With DPD, you aren’t likely to speak up for yourself and you might avoid arguments by agreeing with others even if you secretly don’t agree with what someone wants to do.
  • As you would with codependency, you’d be likely to stick with an unhealthy relationship due to the fear of being alone.
  • People with dependent personality disorder feel anxious and worried when they think that someone who is close to them might be harmed in any way, or think that they are abandoning them. This can make it hard for someone with dependent personality disorder to have personal relationships with others.

How can you heal from dependent personality disorder?

Dependent personality disorder causes feelings of shame and guilt in yourself, as well as your inability to be alone. It is also characterized by your pattern of depending on others to meet your own personal needs.

It is a type of emotional dependency that centers around seeking approval or validation from your environment.

Is there any hope for you if you have DPD? 

YES! There are numerous treatment options available to help you begin the road to healing from dependent personality disorder.

Of course, as you’ve likely already realized, dependent personality disorder can be a difficult disorder to overcome, as a sufferer’s sense of self is bound up in the relationship.

However, there are still many things a person can do to heal from DPD and restore their sense of self.

What are the steps to healing from DPD?

Whether you’re facing DPD yourself or you know someone else struggling with it, these tips can help you move forward.

The key to healing from dependent personality disorder lies in identifying yourself first and foremost as a person who is capable of achieving their goals with or without the help of others.

  • The first step to healing from DPD is learning about it and realizing you have it. Self-awareness is the first step and you should be compiling a list of everything you do now that can be replaced with more positive behaviors.
  • The second step is understanding how the disorder has affected your life and how to make all those broken promises come true. Reaching out to others is important, but don’t let this become a crutch you lean on when you should be solving your problems on your own.
  • The third step is working on improving your relationships, which is one of the most difficult parts of recovering but also one of the most important. Remember that you’re a strong and capable person who can help yourself just as much as you can be helped by someone else – even yourself.

 

Dependent Personality Disorder Resources

Are you struggling with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship? Get help now.

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

Codependency in Toxic Relationships

Codependency in Toxic Relationships

Codependency can be an unhealthy side-effect of a toxic relationship with a narcissist, but what does “codependency” really mean? What are the signs of codependency? What does a dysfunctional family have to do with codependency? And how do you stop being codependent?

Here’s everything you need to know about codependency and how to recover from it.

The Definition of Codependency

When you hear someone use the word “codependent,” often the first thing you think about is someone who is in a relationship with an alcoholic or drug addict. That’s because the term was developed specifically for this kind of relationship – initially.

What is codependency?

“Codependency” is defined as an unhealthy relationship where partners are overly reliant on one another. As a result, a dysfunctional pattern of living and problem-solving develops between the two.  This is a learned behavior, most often learned in childhood, meaning it is often passed from parent to child over the course of many generations. Psychologists consider it both a behavioral and an emotional condition that affects your ability to have healthy relationships.

What is the origin of the term codependency?

The term was developed by therapists who observed that family members often took on the psychological defenses and survival behaviors of the alcoholic or drug addict, thereby extending the disease from the individual to the entire family.

Who is affected by codependency?

Originally, the term was used to refer to the family members of alcoholics and drug addicts. Today, we understand that codependency also affects people in toxic relationships. Codependency begins in the family, meaning that it can affect any type of relationship, but the codependent personality is developed in childhood due to family dynamics.

Related: Top 10 Warning Signs of Gaslighting

How Codependency Develops in the Dysfunctional Family

What to do if you are in a codependent relationship with a narcissistWhat is a Dysfunctional Family?

Dysfunctional families are more common than most people realize. While the dysfunctional family deals with regular conflict, blatant (and more subtle) misbehavior, they often appear “normal and healthy” to outsiders. In reality, many kids in dysfunctional families deal with physical or emotional neglect and in some cases, psychological and/or physical abuse from parents, step-parents, and older siblings, often on an ongoing basis.

Why does a child from a dysfunctional family become a codependent adult?

We develop our understanding of the world and our place in it in childhood. Our parents reject, ignore or neglect us, causing us to feel like we don’t matter, or like we aren’t seen or heard. When we are made to feel unimportant, invisible, and unworthy, we begin to see ourselves this way.  We’re not validated and are in fact invalidated by our dysfunctional families. This leads us to become unhealthy, codependent adults. And, if we don’t heal ourselves, we can end up raising codependent, dysfunctional children, who may then continue the cycle with their own children.

Bottom line: kids who grow up in a dysfunctional family become codependent adults because dysfunction feels normal to them, so they subconsciously seek it out or attract it to themselves. Then, they pass it along to their children, who in turn, do the same. That’s why a total personal evolution is required to fully overcome codependency – and to potentially protect future generations from being dysfunctional. 

Related: Growing Up in Toxic Families

Codependency in Toxic Relationships

As you might expect, this is also a common phenomenon among people who are in relationships with narcissists. This is because the narcissist has such unreachable standards in any relationship that the “supply” is treated as an extension of the narcissist’s self, when it’s convenient – and as nothing, when it’s not.

Does that make sense? Both the narcissist and the codependent have no sense of self – so they need to have a connection to someone else (the narcissistic supply) in order to sort of siphon off their energy and personality.

Related: 44 Signs You’re Being Emotionally Abused

Signs of Codependency in a Toxic Relationship

How do you know you’re in a Codependent Relationship with a Narcissist?

When two people have a very close relationship, it’s natural and mentally healthy to depend on each other for certain things. However, if one of you is toxic, abusive (mentally, physically or otherwise), controlling, and/or overly neglectful of the other person in the relationship, this can lead to codependency.

If you’re you’re the victim in this situation, you lose sight of who you are, in order to please only the other person, the relationship can become very unhealthy. One of the most troubling relationship elements is codependency.

The Codependency Quiz

Not sure you’re dealing with codependency? Try our codependency quiz here, or just ask yourself these questions – and be honest when you answer them. This will help you understand if you’ve fallen into a pattern of codependency in your relationship.

  1. Are you afraid to express genuine feelings to your partner? If you notice you often hold in your feelings for fear of how your partner will react, that’s a sign the relationship is not as healthy as it could be.
  2. If you do express feelings honestly, do you then feel guilty? Perhaps you think “I shouldn’t have said anything… it just made matters worse” after you’re open with your partner.
  3. Is much of your day taken up with trying to do everything for your partner? If you’re completing numerous tasks for your loved one that could easily be done by them, you might be caught up in a dysfunctional, codependent relationship. These chores are done at the detriment of your own life.
  4. Are you leery of asking for help from your partner? If you can’t seek assistance from your partner, it’s very frustrating. In a healthy relationship, partners freely and regularly ask for a hand.
  5. When you do ask for help, how does your partner react? Hopefully, your partner is open and willing to help you out whenever you ask. However, if you’re codependent, you might not feel comfortable with asking or with your partner’s response.
  6. Do you find yourself feeling hurt or angry because your partner doesn’t notice your needs? Although you try to take care of everything, you’re disappointed that your partner does not spontaneously see what’s going on with you. You wait and wait for your partner to recognize your needs but they rarely do.
  7. Do you believe you can’t have a friendship independent of your relationship? Because you’re busy doing chores and errands for your partner and he’s rarely satisfied with how you do them, you don’t have time to maintain a friendship.
  8. Do you have hobbies and activities to enjoy separately from your partner? To maintain a healthy individual identity, it’s important to cultivate your own hobbies and interests, apart from the relationship. If you don’t, it could be a sign of codependency.
  9. Do you try to control things to make yourself feel better? Because you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, you don’t want to upset your partner. Therefore, you take steps to control situations however you can.
  10. Would you describe your partner as needy, emotionally distant, or unreliable? These qualities often draw in partners who are seen as “caretakers.” Thus, the codependency begins.
  11. Do you have a perfectionistic streak and try to get things exactly right? After all, if you get things perfect, then maybe your partner will be happier, more satisfied, and less angry, disappointed, or annoyed with you. If you feel this way, your relationship is likely codependent.
  12. Do you trust your partner? If so, maybe your relationship is not codependent. If you wonder what you’re partner’s doing or suspect they’re not telling you the truth about something, there could be codependency in your relationship. On the other hand, there may be just some trust issues you might want to resolve.
  13. How is your health as it relates to stress? Often, people involved in codependent relationships experience health issues that might be related to stress like asthma, allergies, out-of-control eating, chest pain, and skin disorders. Of course, if you experience any of these symptoms, it’s wise to see your doctor.

The good news is that if you believe you’re in a codependent relationship with a narcissist now, you can begin changing your behavior right away to gain back a healthy sense of who and what you are – and that is what will lead to your healing from this abuse and pain.

Use these questions to guide you in correcting your behaviors and emotional expressions in your loving relationships – and as you grow stronger, you can work toward removing the negative influences from your life.

Recommended Books on Codependency

How to Recover from Codependency

Codependency recovery is a little different for each of us, but there are certain elements of the process that are common to all recovering codependents.

For all of us, codependency recovery begins with recognizing the problem. The first thing you need to do is find some support from people who understand codependency. Scroll down for a bunch of free codependency recovery support and resources.

Next, you need to start working on understanding the situation and why it happened. Identify the toxic people and situations in your life and figure out how they got that way. This will help you to start to see the situation logically instead of emotionally – and that will help you get to the next step.

This leads to the overcoming codependency phase – where you start actually moving forward. This part is all about you: you’re learning who you are, deciding who you want to be and getting ready for your own personal evolution. This is where you begin to thrive and prepare to evolve.

You learn to set and maintain personal boundaries and relationship deal-breakers. You start figuring out what you really want, and you learn to listen to your own intuition again. All the while, you’re clearing out those old “voices” that tell you that you’re not good enough, that you’ll fail, that you will never be (insert dream here). You know, those repeating phrases and devaluing self-concepts instilled in us by our abusers.

You begin to define yourself and intentionally fine-tune your life. During your evolution, you can define yourself. You learn to first unconditionally accept yourself as you are in any given moment and to then decide intentionally what and who you want to be. This leads you to polish and refine yourself and to become secure enough in yourself that codependency is no longer an issue.

Narcissist Relationship Patterns (You MUST Know!)

Tips for Identifying Narcissism and Codependency in a Toxic Relationship

Could you be in a toxic relationship with a narcissist? What is involved in identifying narcissism in a toxic relationship? Are you asking yourself: “Am I codependent?” What qualities do codependents share? Here are the answers you need – narcissism, explained.

Related: The DUO Method of Codependency Recovery

Codependency Recovery Support & Resources

If you feel you need additional help and support in your codependency recovery, seek out a trauma-informed professional trained in helping people who are dealing with codependency. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.

More Free, Helpful Information & Resources to Help You Overcome Codependency 

Plus: Check Out Our New Lower-Cost Group Coaching Program for Codependency Recovery

 

 

Take the test: Are you involved with a toxic narcissist?

Take the test: Are you involved with a toxic narcissist?

Do you suspect that the person you’re dating is a narcissist? How can you tell if you’re dealing with a narcissist or just someone with who you don’t get along personally? Take the self-assessment test here and find out if you’re involved in a relationship with a narcissist now.

How do you know if you’re dealing with a narcissist?

Nearly anyone can end up in the clutches of a narcissist, whether they’re your spouse, boss, friend, parent, co-worker, or even child. This isn’t something that just happens to certain “dumb” people, or to those who are in any way lacking – in fact, it most often happens to intelligent, capable and empathic people. A lot of times, you’re in deep before you know what hit you.

In fact, most of the time,  it’s not until you’re totally codependent that you even realize that there’s something kind of…off…about the person you’re involved with; and it’s not until you’ve become incredibly, deeply infatuated that you find yourself here, looking for answers.

A narcissist can be charming, especially when they’re in “acquisition mode,” also called love bombing or hoovering – but once they’re sure they’ve got you wrapped around their little finger, you’ll begin to see their true face – and trust me, it’s not pretty. But how can you tell if you’re dealing with a narcissist or just someone who isn’t right for you?

Take the Test: Are you involved in a relationship with a narcissist?

That’s why I’ve developed this brief quiz to help you figure out whether you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, or there’s something else happening. It won’t cost you a thing – but it can help determine whether the person you’re concerned about is a narcissist – and whether it’s directly affecting you.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

Related helpful resources for survivors of narcissistic abuse 

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